IDA Pays Research Team

University of Southern California


Research Team

Adrianna Kezar, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Associate Director, Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis
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(213) 740-3497

PhotoAdrianna Kezar is Associate Professor for Higher Education, University of Southern California.  Kezar holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan and a B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles.  Her research focuses on college access, systemic change, leadership, organizational learning, and diversity issues in education. Her publication Early Intervention: Expanding Access to Higher Education (2000), and her work on editing the two first Department of Education publications focused on early intervention programs (1999) resulted in her serving as consultant for the Pathways to College Project (2002-2004), a 10 million-dollar initiative funded by several foundations including the Lumina foundation.  She worked with the Pathways to College Project on a national research agenda for college preparation and early intervention programs which included issues of college costs.  She has conducted focus groups with teachers, school counselors, TRIO professionals, and students on issues of college preparation and financial aid for at risk students.  She has published over 75 articles and books including Higher Education for the Public Good and Creating Organizational Learning in Education.  She is known nationally for her expertise in qualitative methodology and evaluation and currently serves as a consultant for a research project funded by the Lumina foundation on college access and preparation among five states. 

Vikki Frank
Executive Director
Credit Builders Alliance
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PhotoVikki Frank leads an innovative social enterprise nonprofit creating new solutions for unbanked and underserved families to build credit and assets. Vikki is an economic development specialist with 15 years experience building the capacity of international, national and community-based organizations throughout the Americas and Africa. Vikki comes to CBA from the Department of Treasury’s CDFI Fund where she helped underwrite federal funding for Community Development Financial Institutions and strengthen Native CDFIs through training and technical assistance.  Prior, Vikki’s work was with nonprofits and government agencies to advance financial education, IDAs, and asset building in underserved communities through site visits, group training and presentations to over 200 community-based organizations through her work with Health and Human Services Offices of Refugee Resettlement and Community Services.  She is known nationally for her expertise in adapting mainstream asset-building strategies to diverse population. Vikki is an active member of The Assets Alliance and also co-investigator on research with the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at the University of Southern California to expand university participation in asset building and IDAs.  Vikki Frank holds an undergraduate degree from McGill University and a policy degree from Columbia University.

Jaime Lester, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
George Mason University
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PhotoJaime Lester is currently an assistant professor of higher education at George Mason University. Prior to GMU, she was an assistant professor in the Department of Leadership and Counseling at Old Dominion University. Lester received her Ph.D. in Education with a focus on higher education from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. At USC, Dr. Lester was a research assistant in the Center for Higher Education and Policy Analysis primarily working on the Transfer and Retention and Urban Community College Students (TRUCCS) project. Dr. Lester maintains an active research agenda that examines gender equity in higher education; retention and transfer of community college students; socialization of women and minority faculty; and leadership. She has published articles in the Community College Journal of Research and Practice, Community College Review, Journal of Higher Education, and NEA: Thought & Action. She also has two forthcoming books on gendered perspective in community colleges and family-friendly policies in higher education.

Hannah Yang
Research Associate
Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis
University of Southern California
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PhotoHannah Yang is a Research Associate for the IDA project. She received her Masters in Education specializing in postsecondary education and student affairs from the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Since the start of her time at USC she has had an active role in CHEPA. She administered surveys in high schools for financial aid and access research, evaluated the SummerTIME program by conducting exit interviews with the staff, and assisted the Director of the Increasing Access via Mentoring program, in recruiting and supervising students for the program and mentored an underprivileged high school senior with his college and financial aid applications. As evident by her experience, Hannah has an interest in low-income students and using quantitative research to gain rich descriptive data to help this population gain access to and have success in postsecondary institutions.